Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018ND350B

Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Fluvial Geomorphology of Post-glaciolacustrine Meandering Rivers: A Case Study of the Red River

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $6,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $12,000

Principal Investigators: Stephanie Day

Abstract: The Red River of the North is a post-glaciolacustrine fluvial landscape impacted by Glacial Isostatic Adjustments (GIAs) that have influenced the spatiotemporal pattern of erosion and valley development on the Red River. Modern GIA is more complex in the area of the Red River, with a combination of forebulge collapse and rebound acting to decrease Red River valley-slope by 4.1 x 10-6 vertical meters per horizontal kilometer per year. Such impacts cause erosional instabilities in some reaches of the Red River and cause floods to span greater widths and last longer. Although floods cause the greatest planform changes in meandering channels, the fluvial geomorphology is likely significantly influenced by the underlying bedrock, hydrology, and GIA. The proposed research will apply (a) GIS mapping and analysis methods to determine the current erosional state of the Red River, (b) laboratory experiments in studying the effect of silt-clay sediment compaction and dewatering on meandering, and Landscape Evolution Modeling to constrain the geomorphic history and larger implications of Red River fluvial geomorphology. Studying the Red River is important because of its rare existence atop a former massive lake bottom among a landscape in its geological infancy. The current geomorphic state of the Red River leads to the inhabitants of the banks to be threatened by flooding almost annually, and it is important to be better informed on the influence of geomorphology on the future of flooding along the Red River.